Acupuncture with reinforcing and reducing twirling manipulation inhibits hippocampal neuronal apoptosis in spontaneously hypertensive rats
Cognitive impairment is a serious mental deficit following stroke that severely affects the quality of life of stroke survivors. Nuclear factor‑κB (NF-κB)-mediated neuronal cell apoptosis is involved in the development of post-stroke cognitive impairment; therefore, it has become a promising target for the treatment of impaired cognition. Acupuncture at the Baihui (DU20) and Shenting (DU24) acupoints is commonly used in China to clinically treat post‑stroke cognitive impairment; however, the precise mechanism of its action is largely unknown. In the present study, we evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of electroacupuncture against post-stroke cognitive impairment and investigated the underlying molecular mechanisms using a rat model of focal cerebral ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury. Electroacupuncture at Baihui and Shenting was identified to significantly ameliorate neurological deficits and reduce cerebral infarct volume. Additionally, electroacupuncture improved learning and memory ability in cerebral I/R injured rats, demonstrating its therapeutic efficacy against post-stroke cognitive impairment. Furthermore, electroacupuncture significantly suppressed the I/R-induced activation of NF-κB signaling in ischemic cerebral tissues. The inhibitory effect of electroacupuncture on NF-κB activation led to the inhibition of cerebral cell apoptosis. Finally, electroacupuncture markedly downregulated the expression of pro-apoptotic Bax and Fas, two critical downstream target genes of the NF-κB pathway. Collectively, our findings suggest that inhibition of NF-κB‑mediated neuronal cell apoptosis may be one mechanism via which electroacupuncture at Baihui and Shenting exerts a therapeutic effect on post-stroke cognitive impairment.